Extreme kids; If your child jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

CanWest News Service
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Extreme sports like bungee jumping are becoming more popular with people of all ages.
Many activities that were once the domain of adventurous adults are available for the younger set - providing they have parental approval. The tough thing as a parent is deciding whether an activity is too extreme for your comfort level - or theirs.
When it comes to risk-taking, sometimes it's best to let your children stretch their wings with carefully controlled activities. On a recent trip to New Zealand, our two teenage boys were excited to try bungee jumping. The other four members of our family were not as eager, but we all climbed up the Auckland Bridge and stood beside the bungee platform to cheer on the dare devils. The experience gave new meaning to the old question: "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump to?"
Here are some ideas for extreme (and not-so-extreme) activities.

The original bungee jump:
In 1986, A. J. Hacket made his first jump from Auckland's Greenhithe Bridge. He opened the world's first permanent commercial bungee (or bungy, depending on where you are and who you're talking to) site at Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown not long afterward. He is one of the world's largest commercial bungee operators with permanent sites in New Zealand and around the world.
Two of our boys decided they'd like to bungee jump with the world's original operator off the Auckland Bridge. Like millions of adventurous souls before them, they lived to tell the tale.
Info: It costs about $85 Cdn to bungee jump off the Auckland Bridge and that includes an A. J. Hackett Bungy T-shirt. Visit bungy.co.nz for more information.
Hint: For about $24 Cdn per person, you can climb to the bungee platform and watch your friend or family member take the plunge off the Auckland Bridge. The views from the top are worth the fee, but seeing your loved one drop from the top is priceless.

As we rounded the stretch of New Zealand highway that leads into Rotorua we caught our first glimpse of the Zorb, a large sphere that looks like a giant beach ball.
Inside the larger ball was a smaller one and inside of that was a tourist who was running down the hill like a hamster in an exercise ball. Our kids knew it was something they just had to try.
Info: The zorb was invented in New Zealand and there are several places there and around the world where you can experience zorbing. It costs about $30 Cdn for one ride in Rotorua. Visit zorb.co.nz for more information.

Tandem parasailing:
Sammy Duvall's Watersport Centre at Disney's Contemporary Resort in Florida offers a unique parasailing experience for families that provides a bird's-eye view of Walt Disney World that maxes out at 180 metres in height.
Info: Parasailing flights start at $95 US for a single rider or $170 for two tandem riders. All flyers must be over six years old and the total weight on the parachute must be between 57 kg and 150 kg. Visit sammyduvall.com for more information.

Tandem hang-gliding:
It takes months of training to be able to solo hang-glide, but novices can enjoy a tandem flight in a single morning. With an instructor by your side, you are towed 2,000 feet into the air and free fly for 15 to 20 minutes.
While in the air, your instructor teaches you how to steer the glider using your body weight. People from ages four to 40 have enjoyed the experience and on a recent visit to Orlando, my 10-year-old daughter and I gave it a try. Exhilarating!
Info: A standard tandem instruction flight costs $120 at Wallaby Ranch near Orlando. Visit wallaby.com for more information.

It's important to check out a company's safety measures as well as its safety record prior to participating in any type of extreme activity. Wearing proper safety gear for the activity such as helmets, pads, and proper clothing and having adequate travel medical insurance in place is also a must.

Organizations: A. J, Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World

Geographic location: New Zealand, Rotorua, Queenstown Orlando Florida US

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